Former DC Senior Vice President Steve Rotterdam (see “DC Executive Shake-up Continues”) and former Reed Exhibitions exec (and Captain Action retropeneur) Ed Catto have founded Bonfire, an “agency within an agency” tied to Eastwest Marketing Group.  Bonfire will assist consumer brands seeking to engage with geek culture.  “This consumer is incredibly well-read, incredibly intelligent, and socially engaged in the retail space,” Rotterdam said.  “The content is a $400 million market at its core, but its influence is so much more, to movies, gaming, fashion, food, and so on.”


Bonfire plans to work with retailers (as well as publishers, distributors, and organizers) in its efforts.  “An unexpected dividend of my time at DC was meeting the retailers that our identity is so dependent on,” Rotterdam said.  “I felt a great sense of responsibility to those retailers at DC and we’re carrying that into Bonfire.”


“We need progressive retailers in key markets that can engage with brands in the physical space with their customers,” Rotterdam continued.  “We’re not talking about putting marketing materials in stores, we’re talking about companies that will sponsor creator tours, sponsor weekly gathering; things that will demonstrate a company’s commitment and support for the medium.” 


Catto and Rotterdam compare the comic business now to independent film 20 years ago, when sponsorships and underwriting started to grow in importance.  That type of relationship can build credibility with comic fans, which will require the support of comic retailers as well, Catto and Rotterdam believe.  “This depends on authenticity and credibility that goes both ways,” Catto said.  “Both ways it has to be real.” 


Bonfire will be able to draw on creative, account, production, and online resources from Eastwest, as well as “outside creators and creatives that know where the touchstones are,” Rotterdam said.  Eastwest has offices in New York (where Bonfire will be located), Chicago, and Los Angeles.  Rotterdam and Catto originally met at Eastwest, where Rotterdam was Partner and Chief Creative Officer. 


Co-founder/partners Rotterdam and Catto have also brought in Martha Donato, founder of MAD Event Management, which runs the Long Beach Comic Con, as a consultant for Bonfire.


Rotterdam and Catto are scheduled to speak at the upcoming ComicsPRO retailer association meeting (see “ComicsPRO Meeting in Dallas”) on how retailers can buy local media more effectively, and to begin discussions with retailers on how Bonfire’s marketing programs might work.